Well, at least the majority of the game was enjoyable, right?
Lucas Giolito and Shane Bieber delivered as advertised all night, trading scoreless frames and combing for zero runs on six hits with 17 strikeouts. Evan Marshall was nails out of the bullpen again, and Liam Hendriks was actually used in a high-leverage non-save situation, and he delivered a perfect inning to give the Sox a chance at a walk-off win for the second time in as many nights.
Bieber was slightly more efficient than Giolito, who said that Bieber had his best stuff yet on Tuesday night. Cleveland’s ace shut the White Sox out through nine innings.
“The way Bieber was pitching tonight, I didn’t have to wait in the dugout very long to get back out there. So it was like full go for every inning. We were both putting up zeroes. It’s just a battle.
“He looked like he had his best stuff. I wouldn’t say I had my best stuff, but I was trying to pitch like I did.”
Then came the horse crap extra innings rule in which we go back to our Little League days and place a runner on second base to open the extra frame. For the second time in three games, the White Sox allowed that runner to score in the visitor’s half of the 10th inning.
Then comes the head-scratching scenario in which Tony La Russa, Hall of Fame manager with over 2,000 wins, allows Nick Williams to hit for himself with a runner on second base and no outs in the home half of the 10th. Williams was retired for the fourth time on the evening. Then one batter later, down to their final out, La Russa allowed Jake Lamb to hit for himself despite being hit-less on the night and having both Zack Collins and Andrew Vaughn available on the bench. Lamb gave one a ride to the right field wall but flew out to end the ballgame.
What are we doing here?
La Russa has owned one loss publicly already after leaving Matt Foster in too long in Seattle last week, and now another might fall on him to some degree. He started Williams and Lamb hoping to attack Bieber from the left side of the plate, and when they combined to go hitless in six trips to the plate, he stuck with them in a high-leverage spot against a division rival.
“It’s simple: Who didn’t struggle tonight on our side?” he said. “Everybody struggled.”White Sox Manager Tony La Russa on his decision not to pinch hit for Nick Williams and Jake Lamb in the 10th inning.
Sure, La Russa’s lineup and bullpen management have been questionable at best in the early weeks of the season, but the players haven’t been much better.
Only Yermin Mercedes, Danny Mendick, and Adam Eaton have an OPS north of .800 through 11 games. Tim Anderson has been absent since his first at-bat of the season with a hamstring injury, Adam Engel is still recovering from a hamstring injury of his own, as is Billy Hamilton.
The defense has been downright awful, the rotation hasn’t gone deep enough into games, the offense is flat and seems incapable of hitting with runners in scoring position, and the bullpen hasn’t lived up to their lofty expectations either.
This all to say, simply, it’s not all Tony La Russa’s fault. But even in spite of the players not playing to their expected potential, La Russa was billed as the guy that would ensure that they did just that.
That’s why they passed on a no-brainer candidate like A.J. Hinch, right? That’s why they knowingly hired La Russa despite the fact that news of his second DUI was soon to break and become a public relations nightmare for them just a month removed from their first playoff appearance in over a decade, right?
The White Sox are 5-6, and they’re battling through a disappointing and lackluster start to a season that they deemed, “World Series or bust,” this spring. But, they’re still very talented, and it’s still very early.
Let’s hope that Tony La Russa can right his ship on the Southside before it’s too late.
Featured Photo: NBC Sports Chicago